Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE International Cricket Council have frozen their funding of Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect in response to the stand-off that has rocked the local game. Apparently, the global cricket controlling body is in a predicament on how they should proceed with financing ZC following the suspension of the board led by Tavengwa Mukuhlani last week and the installation of an interim one led by David Ellman-Brown.
The Sports Commission board chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, yesterday confirmed that ICC have stopped releasing funds to Zimbabwe.
“They have stated that until their board meeting of 18th July, 2019 they will not be funding Zimbabwe Cricket at all. They have taken this precautionary position because they need to formally consider the terms and conditions on which they are prepared to engage with the interim committee, if at all, including the continued funding of Zimbabwe Cricket’s expenses in light of the suspension of the ZC Board.
“In short, they need to consider whether Zimbabwe has violated its membership obligations regarding ‘government interference’ and the consequences thereof. It will not be the first time the ICC is seized with this question given what could be conceived as ‘government interference’ in the past viz Zimbabwe.
“SRC’s position in the light thereof is to simply focus on assisting the interim committee fulfill its mandate as per its terms of reference. Zimbabwe Cricket has been on life support for a number of years now,” Mlotshwa said.
The Sports Commission board chairman also said “the suspension of the ZC board is intended to introduce a team of doctors to heal a patient who has been subjected to incompetent doctors who have almost killed a patient whilst hiding that fact from the patient’s relatives”.
“The outcome of ICC’s board meeting regarding Zimbabwe will not affect in anyway the clear resolve of the SRC to deal with the contemptible rot in cricket no matter the consequences.
“There’s a lot goodwill and support out there by the public and those that have the best interests of Zimbabwe Cricket at heart.
“Therefore, with or without the ICC’s continued financial support, there is absolute certainty that we will have a properly functional and transparent national cricket association with the right people in charge of administering the game from grassroots, developmental and national levels.
“It must be appreciated that the ICC were essentially funding the debt repayments of ZC and recurrent expenditure in the form of salaries and wages. Very little was being applied towards the development of the game, which is what ICC grants are actually intended for.
“Corporate sponsorship and money goes to where it feels secure. It has stayed away from Zimbabwe Cricket for precisely the fact that the opposite is true.
“Let’s forget about ICC money. Let’s focus on standing on our own two feet, on solid ground comprised of functioning grassroots programmes, a vibrant club structure, competitive provincial cricket and national sides, both women and men, born out solid structures,” said Mlotshwa.
However, the move by the ICC to freeze ZC funds has put the national women’s team tour of Ireland in jeopardy. The Lady Chevrons were scheduled to fly out to Ireland this weekend to join their men counterparts, who are already in the European country for three ODI matches and as many T20I games.
Sadly, the ZC staff have also missed their pay date. Both the office employees and the players, who are currently on tour, have not received their June salaries.
ZC Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Manager, Joyce Kwashira, on Thursday sent a circular notifying employees that they could not process their salaries since the organisation had not received funding from the ICC.
“This memorandum serves to advise you that we have not been able to process your June 2019 salaries, as we have not yet received funding from the International Cricket Council. Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted,” wrote Kwashira.
Zimbabwe Cricket is at crossroads as the impasse between the association and the Sports Commission is likely to take long.
Apart from suspending the board and Acting Managing Director Givemore Makoni, the Sports Commission have also directed a new audit following the damaging allegations of financial impropriety.
The Sports Commission suspects that approximately US$2.8 million could have been misappropriated. A formal dossier on the ZC situation will be presented before the ICC Board meeting scheduled for next month.
However, the suspended ZC directors are fighting back and have since filed an appeal against the Sports Commission’s decision.
They have also filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking temporary susp
ension of the Sports Commission’s decision pending the outcome of the Administration Court hearing.